Before his defection, Thae Yong-ho was a career diplomat for North Korea, fluent in English, who had served in Britain, Denmark and Sweden, often delivering passionate speeches glorifying the Kim family that has ruled North Korea for seven decades.
Mr. Thae, now affiliated with South Korea’s Institute for National Security Strategy, a think tank arm of the National Intelligence Service, has vowed to spend the rest of his life trying to bring down the North Korean government.
The former diplomat said he had come up with a detailed plan for his defection, first ensuring that his two sons joined him and his wife in London. (North Korean diplomats are required to leave a child in the North, a measure intended to prevent their defection.)
While in London, his sons began asking questions, like why the North Korean government executed people in public without a proper trial, Mr. Thae said. Their English friends taunted them with questions, like why Mr. Kim had smoked a cigarette inside a nursery.
Further than that, Thae declined to reveal details of his defection plan and the circumstances.
“When we got out of the embassy, I told [my sons] that now I’m going to cut the chain of slavery and you are free,” Thae said. His 19- and 26-year-old sons’ first concern was whether they could freely browse the Internet.
[New York Times]